Monday, 22 July 2019
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Heritage Listing for the Bight) Bill 2019; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
My community wants to provide protection to the Great Australian Bight. We know that our environment and our livelihoods depend upon a clean ocean. A commitment to decent and enduring protection for the Great Australian Bight continues to be a vexed issue for both of our country's major political parties. I would potentially say that it would have something to do with donations received, but I digress.
My community of Mayo and the coastal communities across South Australia and beyond want to see urgent protection from the serious environmental, economic and social impacts that could occur as a result of risky, deep-sea oil drilling in the bight, and we've said it for years. We've been very loud. We've been very clear. We have had paddle outs for the bight and we have had Hands Across the Sand, but the government is not listening. Sadly, during the recent election, we did not have any movement from the opposition on this critical issue for my community.
Whilst I welcome the election commitment by the government to undertake a thorough audit of the regulation of offshore oil exploration in the bight, this is simply not enough. I recognise that the chance of an oil spill is projected to be small; however, there is still a chance. Any impact of spill would be catastrophic, and we simply cannot risk it. My community relies very heavily on a recreational fishing industry and a commercial fishing industry, and every business, every B & B and every fish and chip shop along the coastline rely heavily on a beautiful, pristine ocean environment.
My preference and that of my community is to see risky deep-sea oil drilling in the bight simply banned. However, I recognise that the major parties are on a long journey to properly represent the views of our coastal communities on the issue. The reintroduction of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Heritage Listing for the Bight) Bill 2019 represents a reasonable compromise as a first step towards fully and properly protecting South Australia's coastal community, jobs and environment.
My community, on the whole, is genuinely deeply concerned that the Norwegian government majority owned company Equinor is continuing to pursue this in our community. We believe that there is a better future for our coastal regions and we believe that that risk should be reduced. National heritage listing would provide a layer of protection that would bolster community confidence that the most rigorous standards of protections are being adopted and adhered to. I therefore commend this bill to the House.